When you first begin an intuitive eating or attuned eating practice, be assured it’s reasonable to experience different types of hunger.
My clients sometimes fall into overthinking that their body must be sending them the wrong clues, or they must be misinterpreting the cues. Surely they can’t be this hungry all the time!
These are a little different to the classic physical, emotional, taste and practical hunger that you might have heard about with Intuitive Eating.
So, let me explain what these different types of hunger are, what they could be signaling, and tips for allowing the process to play itself out as you settle into attuned eating as a way of life.
Response to Restrictive Eating
When coming from any kind of restrictive eating (think of a diet plan, a health program, or anything that created some level of built-up energy deficit), there is a natural reactive response to this.
Physically your body is reacting to nutrient depletion. Over the period of time you have dieted, or restricted your eating, you have perhaps limited water, glycogen, or any number of important nutrients from your body. Once your body is no longer depleted of those essential nutrients, there is a reaction in the other direction – a bit like a pendulum on a grandfather clock.
Trust that in time your body will find equilibrium with itself and the loud hunger will stop.
Once your body is, or no longer feels, depleted, you will be able to start tuning into and trusting the signals you are receiving regarding hunger. The process may take several months and it may be an exhausting, frustrating, or scary process while you adjust to the swings.
Deprivation Driven Hunger
The second type of hunger you may experience is deprivation driven hunger or eating.
My clients usually see this pattern when they have restricted their eating during a meal, or during several days. They sometimes find themselves at the end of the day, feeling full, not necessarily hungry, staring at the cabinets looking for something to eat. If you have ever dieted all week and allowed yourself a “cheat day” on a special evening or a weekend, you may know exactly what I am describing.
Keep in mind the mind-gut connection, as this also includes mental deprivation. If you feel you “can’t have” something, you may respond by over-eating.
When your body is reacting in this way, you know you aren’t searching for the salad-fixings. Instead, you are seeking out high-energy yield foods. Your body is seeking to heal the deficit in energy it feels it lacked earlier in the day or week.
It’s best to allow your body to eat what it wants to eat when it wants to eat. But remember to eat slowly and allow yourself to experience the eating process with your senses so you are aware of the cues that you are full and satisfied both physically and mentally.
Compulsive Eating or Resonate Eating
Food has come to be synonymous with emotions: we eat at celebrations to share joy with others, we associate food as a comfort when we are sad, and we have connections of different foods to various experiences in our lives.
It’s not the worst thing in the world to eat emotionally on occasion.
The concern comes into play when you begin using food as your only tool for coping with emotions. Eating to feel something, or eating not to feel something can cause food to become over coupled with your emotions.
Look on your plate for clues if you feel this aspect of hunger and eating is a concern for you. What is happening on your plate is likely happening in your life. It may benefit you to seek outside support to help you manage your emotions in more healthful ways.
As you acclimate your body, mind, and intuition to an attuned eating program, the first step is pausing to identify what it is you are feeling. Secondly, ask what does that type of hunger need?
You will become keen to notice things within your body will feel differently depending on the circumstance, and these are all completely normal within the process. Continue to practice and use your body as a resource to feel comfortable and safe in the body you have.
If you would like to receive personalized support to help your body have more clear signals in the intuitive eating journey, let’s connect.
Check out the corresponding videos to this blog post :
Additionally, this is part of the Overthinking Intuitive Eating Video Series. Watch the other videos that are part of the series here:
Part 3: Weight
Part 5: Redefining Success